I wait for the Lord, my souls waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. ~Psalm 130:5-6
There it is, right there in the scriptures, over and over again. It is hard to ignore or deny. But it is also just as hard to figure out what it looks like. It is the word wait. God tells us over and over again to wait for the Lord. Unfortunately, we aren't very good at that. It's sort of counter-intuitive. "We are people of action," we defiantly claim. "We can't just sit around on our hands doing nothing." And therein lies our great mistake. We assume that waiting is doing nothing, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Waiting creates dependence. And the truth is that we hate being dependent on anyone or anything--even God. Therefore, we simply refuse to wait, much to our own demise. In fact, we are people who avoid waiting at all costs. We constantly look for the shortest lives, the faster lane of traffic, the quickest way to accomplish the many tasks on our lists. We are all about efficiency. However, efficiency in this world and efficiency in the kingdom of God are two completely different things.
God says, "Wait for the Lord. Stay put until I have spoken or acted, and then (and only then) join me. Don't assume that you know what is right or what is best, but trust completely in my guidance and my direction--even in prayer. Don't go charging right into prayer with a plethora or words and requests. Wait. I will speak. And after I do, answer me." I guess that's why Eugene Peterson says that prayer is always and only answering speech. Prayer is simply answering the God who has already spoken.
Unfortunately, we get this backwards all too often; not only in prayer, but also in life. We spring into action and then think to pray. We charge ahead with our own plans, schemes, and agendas and then ask God to join us. We ask him to bless our way, rather than us following his way. And then we wonder why God doesn't seem to show up, or answer, or move, or bless. The fact is that he already has, but we simply weren't paying attention. It seems to me that we could save ourselves a whole lot of trouble and heartache if we would simply get the order right. Wait. Listen. Then respond. Then pray. Then act. That way there would be a whole lot less wasted movement.